Carnivores Tour devours Jones Beach, NY 8-19-14 w/ Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, & AFI

The summer of 2014 featured a variety of exciting touring bills but perhaps one of the most anticipated was the announcement of Carnivores Tour back in March.  In support of their latest album The Hunting Party, powerhouse Linkin Park headlined the affair with support from Thirty Seconds To Mars and AFI assuring a lineup bound to sellout each stage it graced.  The tour kicked off in Florida, working its way to Long Island, NY, arriving Tuesday August 19th on the hamlet of Wantagh to play Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.  Packing out the 15,000 seat capacity, open air amphitheater on a beautiful summer’s night on Zach’s Bay, fans gathered to see exactly what these three unique acts had in store for them.

First up out of Ukiah, CA was rock band AFI.  Together since 1991, the band’s sound has morphed and progressed over the course of nine studio albums ranging from hardcore, punk, to alternative rock.  Developing a massive following over that time, AFI have blazed their own path leaving their stamp on the punk and rock scene no one can deny.  Capable of selling out clubs on their own, vocalist Davey Havok, bassist Hunter Burgan, guitarist Jade Puget, and drummer Adam Carson gazed out onto the crowd, not the least bit intimidated, and kicked off with “The Leaving Song Pt. II” from their 2003 album Sing in Sorrow.  Havok displayed immense emotional inflections in his delivery as his intense facial expressions brought the true essence of the music to life as they went on through “Girl’s Not Grey”, “I Hope You Suffer”, and “Medicate”.  Captured in the moment, Havok jumped into the massive orchestra pit area singing strongly and bringing smiles to the faces of AFI’s passionate fans.  Making the most of this electrifying opening set, the band went through newer and older favorites including “Love Like Winter”, “17 Crimes”, “Silver and Cold”, closing with “Miss Murder”.  Always appealing to their following, AFI opened the eyes of a broader range of fans which may have known the name but never the music.  Their latest album Burials was released in October of 2013 and may be a great place for newbies to start exploring AFI.

Directly following, as the sun began to set, Los Angeles, CA’s Thirty Seconds To Mars were up next.  Formed back in 1998 by accomplished actor Jared Leto, along with his brother Shannon on drums, this band has taken an interesting road to success through the years.  Initially beginning as somewhat of an underground phenomenon with their debut self-titled album in 2002, the unearthly atmospheric hard rock sounds reached a new stratosphere with 2005’s A Beautiful Lie.  The band reinvented themselves yet again with This is War in 2009, prompting their most experimental release to date with 2013’s  Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.  Daring and unconventional, the band, now comprised of the Leto brothers and guitarist Tomo Miličević, have a cult like following which has overflowed into the mainstream and was out in numbers at Jones Beach with flags held high in the air awaiting their arrival.

Erupting into the energetic opening of “Up in the Air”, the compliments of crowd participation compacted the theater to an intimate feeling.  Jared moved about the stage with adrenaline running through his veins as they went on with “Search and Destroy”, and a mesmerizing rendition of “This is War”.  Engaging the audience, Jared had everyone chanting along through songs like “Kings and Queens” and even hopped off the stage and ran to some of the highest points in the venue as he sang while he reached out to fans.  Completely exhilarated by the overwhelming theatrical vibe of the set, there was plenty of confetti flying around and hypnotizing lighting showing Thirty Seconds To Mars pulled out all the stops to wow the audience.

Moving along at a steady pace, Jared introduced the track “Do or Die” as their latest single.  With its upbeat sound, the social significance of the song made it a moment to reflect on life and humanity.   Going into another favorite, “City of Angels”, more crowd chanting was featured as hands were in the air holding cell phones to light up the sky.  Transitioning the electro vibe into a stripped down acoustic performance, Jared stood on the platform open to the elements amongst thousands of spectators strumming his guitar and singing “Hurricane” and “The Kill (Bury Me)”.  Vulnerable and real, Jared invited a lucky fan to stand with him as he performed and she blushed with joy.  Concluding this portion of the show, Thirty Seconds To Mars closed out with a cool instrumental jam of Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, before an epic speculate of “Closer to the Edge” with a stage full of fans.  This band just seems to get better with age, having a hands on approach with the audience that is magical and not to be missed.

After a brief intermission to grab refreshments, everyone returned to their seats and waited for Linkin Park.  While being one of the most popular rock bands in modern times, Linkin Park has also taken some daring explorations into sound over the course of their six studio albums.  Initially considered an alternative metal act with the release of the enormous Hybrid Theory (2000), they have shed their skin and replenished their creative direction time and time again; tapping into hard rock, electronic, and most recently raw metal sounds on The Hunting Party.  Along for the ride, their audience has grown in numbers and that array of fans clamored for Chester Bennington (vocals), Mike Shinoda (vocals/guitar), Joe Hahn (turntables/keyboards), Dave Farrell (bass), and Rob Bourdon (drums) to emerge from the darkened stage.

With a tension building introduction, the band catapulted into the performance with new hard hitter “Guilty All The Same”.  With plenty of enthusiasm, Bennington leaned into his microphone, shut his eyes, and let out some of the most ear-tingling screams through “Given Up” and “With You”.  Matching his intensity, Shinoda’s on-point rhymes packed a punch that had everyone throwing their hands up.  Reaching out to the audience, Shinoda stood atop the barricades, slapping as many hands he could without skipping a beat.  Keeping the flood gates open, Linkin Park kept things going with “One Step Closer” before mashing together irresistible dance-like track “Blackout”, “Papercut”,  “Rebellion”, and “Runaway”.

Like a rush of blood to the head, the non-stop approach did not subside as Shinoda rocked the lyrics of “Wastelands” and Bennington provided the emotional chorus.  Like that, the mood shifted with the soothing opening of “Castle of Glass” and shivers went down the spines of everyone.  Remixed and featuring a more upbeat sound for brief moments, the most touching moments of the entire performance came during the medley of “Leave Out All the Rest / Shadow of the Day / Iridescent” featuring gorgeous piano and a show stopping vocal performance by Bennington.  Utilizing their talents to the highest capacity, Linkin Park did not let a moment pass without notice and kept the roller coaster ride going as Hahn was given time to shine on the turntables as unbelievable beams of light dressed the theater.

Keeping everyone on their toes, Shinoda carefully mixed in a surprise no one expected with the Fort Minor tune “Remember the Name”.  Beginning nearly a decade since the project was active, this little treat had more than just a handful of fans smiling.  The lengthy set fittingly halted with “In the End” as Shinoda gave himself to the crowd, again lending his microphone to those who wished to sing along.  Exiting the stage for mere minutes, Linkin Park reappeared in classic fashion for a pedal-to-the-metal encore featuring “Burn It Down”, “Until It’s Gone”, “What I’ve Done”, and “Bleed it Out”.  The only way to describe Linkin Park’s performance is absolutely enthralling.  Highlighting their excellent new material along with their diverse discography, they had something to offer everyone who came out for Carnivores Tour.


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